Sadly, by the time that the wound has progressed and opened– and even with the best wound care– the patient faces a painful and emotionally draining recovery. Realistically speaking, many patients who develop bed sores will likely never recover from this incredibly visual emblem of neglect.
But, what if facilities could prevent the bed sores from developing in the first place?
It’s no secret that bed sores (also called: pressure sores, pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers) can be prevented with educated and attentive staff to assist in keeping patients in the proper position and clean. The problem at most facilities is that management continuously elect to reduce staffing levels to as low as possible in order to maximize profits at their facilities. When staffing is the number one cost of operating a nursing home, many operators feel that by reducing staffing levels they can maximize their profits.
While nothing can take the place of a well-staffed facility, new research suggests that the use of basic medical devices can both reduce the frequency of bed sores and help facilities reduce costs by eliminating much of the cost associated with treatment for bed sore complications.
A study conducted by the Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative recently determined that long-term care facilities, could improve reduce the incidence of bed sores and— improve their bottom lines if they were to use pressure reduction foam mattresses and foam cleansers. Further based on data collected, the authors estimate that the pressure reduction mattresses and foam cleansers would save approximately $280 per resident collectively.
According to the studies lead author, Ba’ Pham,
These results provide specific evidence to support practice guidelines, which recommend reducing risk factors and improving skin health to prevent pressure ulcers. We encourage all providers of long-term care to consider these changes.
I’m not naive enough to believe that nursing home operators will look at the quality of life benefits as the sole criteria for implementing an aggressive bed sore prevention plan. Hopefully as more studies are conducted on this enduring medical problem, management will come to realize that allowing patients to suffer with bed sores is simply bad business— and further preventative measures will be implemented.